Simple gestures go a long way

How the World Food Programme (WFP)’s SCOPE technology is facilitating assistance

Giulia Serrelli
Feb 1, 2019 · 4 min read

It is bright and early. The sun has not even fully risen over Windhoek, and Erika is already at the Katutura East distribution point. She is waiting on the hillside of the Youth Centre’s Sports Field for the Food Bank and WFP Namibia teams to finish setting up. In her right hand she holds her FOOD BANK SCOPECARD, which she is currently using to shade her eyes from the sun. Soon, Erika will use the SCOPECARD to redeem her food parcel.

Over 6,000 people use the FOOD BANK SCOPECARD — the number keeps growing. Photo: WFP

Erika is a mother of four, an excellent cook (from what she tells me her children say of her), determined to find a job, and a Food Bank Beneficiary.

The Food Bank is a programme implemented by the Government of Namibia’s Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare that aims to end hunger and extreme poverty in the urban and peri-urban areas of the country. Each month, Erika receives a parcel consisting of porridge, flour, canned meat and fish, pulses, oil, yeast and soap. The food ensures a balanced nutritional intake for her and her children Obri, Memory, Beauty and Edith.

A typical Food Bank parcel contains porridge, flour, canned meat and fish, pulses, oil, yeast and soap. Photo: WFP

In order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the programme and enhance beneficiaries like Erika’s experiences, the Government reached out to WFP to provide technical expertise and support in digitizing the programme. WFP offered its SCOPE technology — the beneficiary information and transfer management platform in use since 2013.

The SCOPECARD solution: a SCOPECARD, a mobile Point-of-Service devices and a receipt printer. Photo: WFP

Erika was the very first person to ever redeem her food parcel with the new technology. Erika now uses her FOOD BANK SCOPECARD — a smartcard that holds her details and fingerprints — to redeem her food parcel. A tap of the card on the device tells the Food Bank team which parcel belongs to her, and after verifying that she is indeed Erika — with her fingerprint — she can receive the parcel.

“It is so easy. It really has made the process so much quicker. I no longer have to queue for hours. What I most love is that it is secure. Only I, with my fingers, can redeem my parcel.”

Erika sometimes stays around the distribution point to help translate the technical aspects to others. “I speak 4 languages you see,” she tells me. “My father came from South Africa and taught me Zulu and Afrikaans. I learnt Tamara in school, and well, English is English.”

The technology allows to verify the identity of the person through fingerprints. Photo: WFP

Food Bank distribution using SCOPE began back in October, and take place on a monthly basis, except for the month of December, as many beneficiaries leave the city “to go and see their loved ones back in the villages.” The November parcels contain food for two months.

“As soon as I get home, I will bake some bread. I follow my father’s recipe and it is my children’s favourite, regardless of their age — they especially love it when it is warm. I always find it nice when the simplest of gestures create such a great sense of happiness.”

Erika will come back to the distribution point the next month to collect her food parcel. Photo: WFP

Sharing what one is already good at is indeed such a simple gesture and it can really make such a difference to the lives of others.

Watch the video, to know more about the Food Bank going digital.

WFP is currently engaged in a strategic review to determine the service model to be adopted for Digital Assistance Services for Governments. WFP is consulting extensively with external partners, including the World Bank, on how services can be defined and used in a way that integrates well with other development partners’ medium and long-term goals for each country where they might be relevant.

Find out more about WFP in Namibia

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme

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